&to=http://www.kansascity.com' target=_blank>KansasCity.com reports that "Hooligan monkeys" harassing female visitors at a park. Monkey fur dyed in assorted brilliant colors at a safari park. Monkeys in the newspapers. Monkeys on TV. Monkeys on the collective brain of the world's most populous country.
On Thursday, day one of the Year of the Monkey, mainland China suddenly took on a definite simian flavor. All manner of monkey-like iconography, from Tarzan's chimp to the ape in the old "Donkey Kong" video game, festooned the Chinese media.
Why not? After all, said the Beijing Youth Daily, "the golden monkey presents us with fortune."
One of China's most popular legends is that of Song Wu Kong, the painted-face, mischief-making "Monkey King" who is consistently brewing up trouble in the heavens. But real-life monkeys can get just as weird, if the state-controlled media are to be believed.
In the western Chinese town of Longchi, in a park where wild monkeys range freely, there's been a problem of late - a problem that, oddly enough, didn't make it onto the Chinese news radar until the first day of the Year of the Monkey. "The hooligan monkeys," says the Chengdu Evening Post, "have been hitting on the ladies for a long time, igniting social outcry." Across the country, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, the Forest Safari Park in Shenyang is atwitter with the latest action by its operators - dyeing the fur of monkeys in sundry bright hues in celebration of the New Year.
"It was no easy job to dye monkeys," Xinhua deadpanned.
According to &to=http://www.abc.net.au' target=_blank>ABC the monkey is one of the most loved animals in the Chinese horoscope, and each year is supposed to take on the characteristics of its patron animal. It's a symbol of cleverness, vitality, and unruliness. However monkeys – that is people born in a monkey year – can also be mischievous, egotistic and disrespectful.
The nature of monkeys was highlighted in the ancient Chinese masterpiece the 'Journey to the West'. It tells of the Monkey King's travels to India in search of Buddhist scriptures.
Many women in Singapore are buying their husbands special Chinese New Year briefs, hoping to bring them good fortune and increase their sexual potency.
Women are also buying themselves "Funky Monkey'' panties specially designed for the year of the monkey, featuring smiling cartoon primates.
The Lunar New Year begins on Thursday and is celebrated by the Chinese diaspora around the globe – informs &to=http://www.suntimes.com' target=_blank>SunTimes.
So what can be done to keep our fortune and bring on more?
"Don't wear dark colours, wear red, as red as possible," suggested a Singaporean.
"Say good things, don't beat children, don't want children to cry or break things," added another.
"Buy some new underwear to make your foundation more solid," said a third.
And nothing seems to shake the foundation of these well-kept traditions.
Everyone agreed they didn't know how these beliefs came about but sticking to them generation after generation is the best way to go.